Comments on Commission Communication on MDG Action Plan

Global transition

On April 21st 2010 the European Commission released a communication entitled “A twelve-point EU action plan in support of the Millennium Development Goals.”

This Communication is in preparation for the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Review High Level Plenary Session in September. It will form the basis of the discussions between Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Development on 5th May and 14th June and it is expected that Heads of State will adopt the EU position at the June Council.

This extraordinary UN plenary session called by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon will be held ten years after the adoption of the MDGs which aim to halve poverty by 2015. It will be an occasion to reflect, review and learn lessons from what has been achieved (or not) since 2000.

Even if some progress has been made, it does not hide the reality : Industrialized countries are off track regarding their MDG commitments and enormous challenges remain for the next five years. The economic crisis has also resulted in additional hardships and more people falling into poverty in some of the developing countries as well as a shortfall in international development assistance.

Climate change also presents massive threats to the achievement of the MDGs, especially those related to eliminating poverty and hunger and promoting environmental sustainability. 

Vulnerable communities in the least developed countries and small island developing states are already suffering from the devastating impacts but will look in vain to the EU’s action. The proposals from the Commission are a very long way from the sort of commitments needed to rebuild trust and deliver an equitable solution.

CAN Europe urges the European Commission to mainstream climate change within its Action Plan for MDG review in order to tackle both poverty and impacts from changes in climate efficiently.

In its communication, the EC brings the issue of climate change down to a “TEST CASE” for the EU’s programme on aid effectiveness under the Paris and Accra agendas, i.e., the coordination of fast-start finance. The communication focuses heavily on green technology transfers and liberalization of tariff and non-tariff barriers for environmental goods.

Addressing climate change in developing countries goes far beyond technology transfers and must not be the case for the EU to expand its green business industry in developing countries. Urgent adaptation efforts are needed now along with support that responds to the needs and priorities of those countries hardest hit.

The EC refers to the implementation of the €2.4 billion of fast-start funding to which the EU committed in the Copenhagen Accord. Climate change is an additional threat for the most vulnerable countries which need new and additional financial resources. Thus, any climate finance must be committed, and provided, over and above developed countries’ existing targets to provide 0.7% of the GNI as Official Development Assistance (ODA). 

In its common Action Plan for MDG review, the EU must reiterate its commitments of the European Council of October 2009: “…to undertake that such [climate] financing would [should] not undermine or jeopardize the fight against poverty and continued progress toward the MDGs.”

After it failed to show unified and ambitious diplomatic leadership at COP15, the MDG review process represents a unique occasion for the EU to re-build trust with developing countries. For this it will have to be coherent and credible and not use relabeled money to fulfill two commitments at the same time.